Today’s post comes to us from one of our truly amazing cycle coaches, Jay Kilby, who recently completed a 508 mile ride through the Mojave Desert and Death Valley! You can read an article about it here. Now, we turn to the man himself to find out what led to his decision to undertake such an adventure. Take it away, Jay!
It was December 29th, 2004 and I had just gotten my drivers license in the mail. I took one look at the photo and realized that I was disgusted with where I was in my fitness, so I immediately went down to the local bike shop and purchased the bike in the window. I had no idea what I was doing. At a local coffee shop I picked up a Team In Training Flyer and decided to attend the 2005 Silicon Valley kick off meeting. I was overwhelmed, amazed, scared, but somehow, excited about learning to ride 100 miles and maybe do 200! At 242 lbs, I could barely make it 9 miles on a slight uphill.
As the season went on, my coach encouraged me and I continued to get better. But this was not about just me anymore – it was about those fighting cancer. I saw first hand the suffering cancer caused when our honorees(honored blood cancer patients) visited us on Saturdays, so their suffering became my suffering. Their fight became my fight. I began to train even harder and put as much energy into raising $$ to fight this terrible disease as I could. In July of 2005, I completed the Seattle to Portland 204 mile ride in under 12 hours.
Now I was addicted to Cycling and the wonderful people who coached me that I wanted more. I returned to TNT to become a mentor for a season and then an assistant Cycling coach for the past six seasons, completing three more Seattle to Portland Double Centuries and four more 100 milers. I also began to race in sanctioned road races and in 2010 became a CAT 2 racer.
At this point, I had lost close to 95 lbs since I started riding with TNT and felt that I was in the best shape I had ever been. I had raised $$ for TNT for
many years but I was looking for a new challenge. In December of 2009, I decided to train for the Furnace Creek 508 (509.6 miles with 35,000 feet of climbing) with a TNT friend, Bob Corman. I would also coach the 2010 Silicon Valley Seattle to Portland 1 Day Team and also fundraise for TNT at the same time.
There were many times, especially on the 15 mile long uphills, 7-18% climbs, and the 96 degree temperatures, that we wanted to quit. But the thought of losing the battle was not an option, as it is not an option for those dealing with Cancer.
Some might wonder what would compel us to ride in a 508-mile race through the blistering heat and unforgiving terrain of the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. Would you believe, women with breast cancer in South Africa? A couple of reasons:
Reason #1 – Through a few South African contacts here in the US, we decided to raise money for BreastSens, a non-profit advocacy and lobbying organization that addresses the cultural stigma tied to poor African women afflicted with breast cancer. Cultural ignorance and government apathy, according to founder and breast cancer survivor Molebatsi Pooe-Shongwe, “hinder women in South Africa’s poor urban black neighborhoods from seeking timely medical intervention.” We got a local bike shop, Bicycle Outfitter of Los Altos, to cover our $900 entry fee and provide us with cycling gear.
Reason #2 – I was notified earlier this year that my Father was diagnosed with Colon and Liver Cancer. I have raised money for TNT, but now it was personal. I now was on the other side of the fence, with a loved one who will soon not be with us. I figured that even if he is losing his battle with cancer, I can still fight for those here in the US and in South Africa. My philosophy: Life is always about challenges and we all need that in our life. Why not give something back while doing something for yourself?
On Sunday Evening, October 3rd, 2010 at 10:36:12, with support from our wonderful TNT alumni Dawn Chuck and Matt Wolpin, Bob and I completed the 509 miles in 37 hours, 36 minutes, and 12 seconds. We got up Saturday Morning, Oct 2nd at 6:00am for the 9:00am start and finally went to sleep at 1:30am Monday morning. That’s 43 1/2 hours with no sleep. We placed 3rd in our age group and 5th overall for two person teams. To put it into perspective, we rode our Bikes from Palo Alto, California, to San Diego, California. You can read more about our adventure here, and I will post the eight minute video that documents our adventure in a few days.
So, as a TNT Cycle Coach, what is the next challenge for 2011? Again, coach a 2011 spring cycling team to raise more money for LLS and either do this ride again and beat our time or do the Race Across the West, all 875 miles of it non-stop!
Remember, there are always challenges in life. Some will defeat us, some will not, but you are not living if you don’t try.
Thanks, Jay! For those of you interested in doing a cycle event, or just in trying out our program, the winter season will be launching soon. Stop by a no obligation info meeting and find out how TNT can get you in the best shape of your life! Meet Jay and the rest of the amazing coaches, and try out the first month of training before committing to the program.